John Hume and the cricket connection by Lawrence Moore
In previous ramblings I have alluded to the fact that John played cricket for both City of Derry and Waterside CC and it would be remiss not to mention that as he is laid to rest today.
Former City player Tommy McBride has the memory of two elephants on most things and he explained to me this week how the Nobel Peace Prize winner had come to play senior cricket in the North West.
“After John left St Columb’s College he went to study in Maynooth College in Dublin. Back then the relationship between the GAA and the Church wasn’t great and so gaelic games was off the menu. You had a simple choice of sports at Maynooth and that was either rugby or cricket, and John chose cricket.”
Shortly after finishing his studies and heading back north, he decided to try his hand at the game at club level. Local cricket author Billy Platt had been at the Duncreggan Road side for around three years when John arrived and confirmed that he had played several times in the same team.
“He was a decent player- a very good slow left arm bowler and middle order bat” Billy recalled, “but he was in and out of the side due to unavailability.”
After a couple of years at Duncreggan Road, John tried his luck across the bridge at Waterside where he played the next two seasons at the Trench Road. Again though, an ever-increasing workload in a blossoming public career was taking its toll. As history was to dictate, a different path was to lie ahead for the man who played such a massive role in saving the country from itself.
In different times, John Hume’s funeral today would have been a state affair, with dignitaries from around the world flying into the city. There were very few corners of the globe where he was a stranger.
The tribute to him during yesterday’s thrilling ODI between England and Ireland was steeped in irony and yet just this once we can agree that giving up cricket in his prime was absolutely the right move for everybody.
May his gentle soul Rest In Peace.